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Why did Tilda Swinton play a man in ‘Suspiria’? Director Luca Guadagnino talks us through it - Metro US

Why did Tilda Swinton play a man in ‘Suspiria’? Director Luca Guadagnino talks us through it

Tilda Swinton in Suspiria
[Image: Amazon Studios]

The worst kept secret in the movies was finally revealed earlier this month when Tilda Swinton confirmed that she was indeed playing the character of Dr. Jozef Klemperer in Suspiria. 

This had long been suspected.

Because while it was already known that Swinton was portraying Dakota Johnson’s dance instructor Madame Blanc in Luca Guadagnino’s gruesome, supernatural horror, photos from the set seemed to show that she had put on heavy makeup to play the elderly male character Klemperer, too.

During production both Guadagnino and Swinton reputed these claims, insisting that Lutz Ebersdorf was the actor portraying Klemperer. However, his lack of an IMDB page and the fact he looked just like Swinton meant that no-one really believed them. 

Swinton being Swinton, even her admission that she played Klemperer was layered and beguiling. As she explained to the New York Times that she took on the role of Ebersdorf, who in turn then took on the role of Klemperer.

I recently had the chance to speak to Guadagnino about Suspiria, during which time I asked him to talk me through Swinton’s decision to play Klemperer.

“It is not about whose idea it was. But it was mine. It was more about the fun of doing it. And making something that was consistent with the texture of the movie.”

“A movie in which it is about women debating about what is the nature of power and there is a man who is created by a woman who is the subject of this conversation.”

“Suspiria” marks the fourth occasion that Swinton and Guadagnino have collaborated, and I was intrigued to know whether the director sees her as his muse, a point that the director immediately expunged. 

“She is not a muse. A muse is somebody that is passively there waiting to inspire, usually, a man.”

“She is more a partner. A friend. A sister. I think she is inspiring. There is some source of inspiration that comes from her that is important for the process of filmmaking.”

“Suspiria” is now in cinemas. 

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